This Lenten season started like any other for Catholics. We buried the Alleluia, celebrated somber Masses & began our fasting. With Churches all over simplifying decor, drawing nearer to Gethsemane. We are making our way through the desert when we hear the news that the pandemic sweeping across the globe is upon us.
Suddenly the congregation got smaller & the holy water fonts dried up. Then we dropped the handshake at the sign of peace & settled for a nod & a smile with our pastor after Mass. Then the hymnals & missals were put away. Then Mass itself was suspended.
In this time of Lent as we walk through the unknown, things are as solemn as they feel. In a modern world where social distancing is often a choice on normal days, where we’re suspicious & antisocial, ordering instead of interacting, too busy for our neighbors & unbearably lonesome. We get more than what we bargained for.
For me this social distancing stuff isn’t too unfamiliar. As a mom with young kids I’ve spent the past 5 years sheltering my babies from extreme weather, flu seasons & EEE. I spend most of my days in prayer; working in my home & caring for my family. Running to errands & appointments. Reading, writing, exercising & chores. An occasional play date for the kids or night out with my husband. Aside from my birthday dinner, I’m honestly not missing much. But, Church? Adoration? Now that broke my heart in two. I left the sanctuary that last Mass with my heart in pieces.
In the year of the Eucharist for the Archdioscese of Boston, we are separated from it. In these 40 days that we speak for the voiceless we’re reminded that our elders need advocacy too. We see the toilet paper & food flying off of the shelf is a symptom of a much deeper societal issue of the heart.
It is hard to see the tangible expressions that are so dear & beautiful to us stripped away. For our communal faith to be unable to come together. For Pope Francis to bless an empty St. Peter’s Square. For there to be suffering & fear all around us. What a dry desert to walk. Is it penance? Perhaps, but it’s not ours to declare or question. Just accept.
We know its for the best, that these extreme measures will protect the valuable lives of the most vulnerable among us. We know that our faith is all encompassing. That we have access to our Lord no matter what, through word, prayer, Spirit & this sacramental world. But there is a part of us that longs for that physical aspect that makes Catholicism so unique.
Because we believe Jesus Christ is a person. Truly present in the Blessed Sacrament- body, blood, soul & divinity.
There is a heartache that comes with this separation from the source & summit of our faith. God may permit this trial but does not delight in our separation. Know that as we long for our Savior he longs for us. He waits for us in the tabernacle loving us more than we could possibly imagine. God desires unity & communion with us so much that he came & died to be with us. Jesus wept. Don’t think for one moment that he doesn’t long for you.
We’re sacrificing much more than anticipated this season but we are seeing generosity & coming together in other ways. This isolation itself is a joint effort as we all work together to lower the risk for everyone. We’re seeing heroic measures taken by health care professionals & first responders & everyone who serves the public. A greater appreciation for the freedom we have. Precious time together & words that may never have been said.
We are seeing ingenuity of faith through live streaming Mass, virtual prayer groups & drive through confessions. & moving gestures of solidarity like a monstrance in the window of a Church for adoration, parishioners’ photos on pews, people singing from their windowsills & unexpected charity.
Right now it feels like we’re losing the battle. We’re entrenched in confusion with so much out of our control. But, take heart my friend, Easter is coming! & even if we don’t get to celebrate in Church this year we are still an Easter people & Alleluia is our song!
No matter where we are on Easter morning we will celebrate the resurrection. We will still sing Alleluia. In our homes, on our phones, to our babies & out the open windows of our cars. We will still sing Alleluia because he is risen & so we will rise!
We will rejoice & sing in the blessed hope of the beauty to come once we finally reunite with our Beloved. With our teachers, our brothers & our sisters. The tears, the appreciation, the joy!- Oh, the splendid joy, to come!
Just imagine the celebrations in Heaven & on Earth. People on fire with renewed faith, people ready to lead, people ready to change their lives. An increase in reverence, adoration, devotion, procession & prayer.
An absolute torrent of grace flowing from the divine heart of Jesus through the hands of our Blessed Mother. A rapid succession of delayed baptisms, confirmations, first communions, weddings, reconciliations pouring the healing salve of love into our broken hearts.
Can we really despair knowing that this is what awaits us? I don’t say this to minimize anyone’s suffering or loss. But, we can’t out-give God! If we give all of our fear & disappointment & offer it to him, he will hand it back to us as truth beauty & goodness. He is with us now & waits for us on the other side of this Exodus.
This knowledge keeps keeps me positive. Keeps me faithful when shadows loom. The Holy Rosary reminds us that after the Sorrowful Mysteries come the Glorious ones. We serve an all loving, almighty God who brings beauty from ashes & resurrection from death. So as we wait for the ascent let us not replace this true Love of our hearts with any lesser comforts. Let us stay faithful, prayerful examples of a people confident in the Lord & invigorated with a living Hope. We are an Easter People & Alleluia Is Our Song!
Peace & Love, Cait